U.S. Secretary of Transportation visits New Mexico to present first-of-its-kind pilot program
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A first-of-its-kind pilot program is coming to New Mexico with a mission to make New Mexico roads safer and preserve wildlife.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg presented this program alongside the New Mexico delegation at the Santa Ana Pueblo.
He says decreasing wildlife, vehicle collisions is the main priority.
“The safety solution that is needed in one location, busy crosswalk in the middle of a dense metropolitan area is different than the safety solution that you need in an area where there are so many conflict points between traffic and wildlife,” said Buttigieg.
The wildlife crossings pilot program will allow states to create wildlife crossings over or below busy roads.
“If we don’t do this work correctly and together then we have a problem with maintaining our current wildlife, and we have a public safety at the same time,” said Gov. Michelle Luján Grisham.
Buttigieg says there are at least 900 vehicle wildlife crashes in New Mexico every year.
“They cost the state millions annually in medical expenses, lost work time, and property damage. That is why this work is so significant,” Buttigieg said.
This program will allow states like New Mexico to apply for grant funding to put up signs and crossings for wildlife.
“New Mexico, given that we are so rural, people commute long distances to work which means we are driving in the dark. We have the highest public safety accidents when we are intersecting with wildlife,” said Grisham.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has put aside $111 million in grant funds for the first year. They have $350 million total to spend over five years.
This pilot program was part of the bipartisan infrastructure law. It will be administered by the Federal Highway Administration.